Latest Stories

Aquino, Cabinet members urged to voluntarily take AIDS test

By ,

A national alliance of gay groups and a United Nations (UN) official on Saturday called on President Aquino and his Cabinet to voluntarily take an HIV-AIDS test to help dispel the stigma associated with routine testing for this disease.

The call was made as about a thousand members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups held their annual Metro Manila Pride March in Makati City on Saturday afternoon.

The Dangal (Pride) National Network, an alliance of 23 gay, bisexual and transgender groups, urged Mr. Aquino, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and other Cabinet members to get tested to help reduce the stigma associated with the test.

Health advocates say the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease were among the factors behind the steep rise in HIV infections in the Philippines, one of only nine countries in the world where infections are increasing.

Many are ashamed to get themselves tested, Jonas Bagas, Dangal National Network president, said in a forum on HIV/AIDS.

Teresita Marie Bagasao, country representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, supported the appeal of Dangal, adding that leaders of other countries who have had themselves tested will serve as an example for their countrymen to follow.

“That’s an excellent call to action. Take the test at the highest level not so much because they are at risk but to dispel the stigma,” Bagasao said in the same forum.

“In many countries, what has happened is that the political leadership provides its support. One way for instance is a national day for testing. HIV-(testing) is still being stigmatized. We just want to normalize it,” she said.

“Taking the test is not something that people should be worried about. It’s normal if you want to know if you’re healthy. So, it’s more symbolic coming from leaders to do that,” she added.

Bagasao said action was needed because studies had shown that “only one-fourth” of Filipinos who have themselves tested return to find out the results.

“Three-fourths do not return and these are people who already had themselves tested. So, they really don’t know their status,” Bagasao said.

She also pointed out that only around 30 percent of “at risk” populations—men who have sex with men (MSM), men and women in prostitution, and drug addicts who use needles—have themselves tested.

“We won’t reach zero infection and zero deaths if we don’t address the stigma and discrimination,” Bagasao said.

Bagas said that, by having himself tested, the popular President would make a big impact in changing the mind set of members of the public who discriminate against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Dangal, however, said the tests should remain voluntary.

“Mandatory testing is not only illegal, but more importantly, it is ineffective and will only worsen stigma around HIV. If you force gays, bisexuals and transgender people to undergo HIV testing, you will only push the community underground and will expose them to graver forms of abuse,” Dangal warned.

Dangal said it was not gay sex but unprotected sex that was behind the increase in HIV infections among the MSM.

“The reason why the epidemic is spreading in the community is because unprotected sex remains prevalent. It is unprotected sex that we must address,” Dangal said.

“Blaming gay sex, or pushing for its elimination, is a futile exercise. Male-to-male sex is here for good. What we can eliminate is stigma and discrimination, which prevent us from accepting that male-to-male sexual or romantic relationships are part of our humanity,” Dangal added.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Aquino Administration , Aquino cabinet , Benigno Aquino III , gay , HIV-AIDS , HIV-AIDS test , Metro Manila Pride March , President Aquino , United Nations

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Celebrating Easter and creativity in New York
  • Man wins half marathon, dies in Argentina
  • Clouds to bring slight relief from summer heat
  • Canadians rally to legalize marijuana
  • S. Korea ferry transcript reveals evacuation panic
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Marketplace